I went in with low expectations too.
Ok Australia and New Zealand, you get one more shot at this – any sign of shenanigans, riggory or Art Symone and we’re shutting it down.
A Whole New Pack
Kicking off what will hopefully be the Down Under redemption was Hannah Conda who (and forgive me father for I am about to compare drag queens) probably should have come with a trigger warning for anyone still working through their Post-Baga Stress Disorder
it’s all in the eyes and lips because their drag aesthetics are VERY different. I do find Hannah’s name very funny, not because of the obvious play on Anaconda, but the name “Hannah” just doesn’t strike me as very draggy, Hannah is the name of a girl who goes to church every sunday and obsessively draws pictures of horses.
Next up was Faux Fur who you very much heard before you saw, both because of the banshee-like scream that precedes her by about 2 seconds, but her hat was giving her as little screentime as possible
A war I think she won the moment she just flung the hat across the room with all the grace of Gia Gunn flopping her hula hoop bag onto the table
I LOVE her, I thought she was so endearing and charming, even when she was singing like a cat trying to escape its own skin and I truly will be seeking retribution for her and her black underwear.
And next it was the first of the Big Names with Spankie Jackzon strutting her way in and, as many people have pointed out, very much looking like that Peter Griffin “The legs go all the way up” cut-away
and this would not be the first time we would be seeing Miss Jackzson’s ass cheeks this episode as she proved to be pants averse, but I really enjoyed her – she has a real Jennifer Coolidge energy about her
which makes the fact she never said “I need a hotdog real bad!” during the silly sausage sizzle mini challenge a criminal offense.
Following Spankie was Spankie’s Nemesis-to-be, Beverly Kills who will either be told by Ru that she’s born to do drag or told by Ru that she’s too young, not ready and needs to go home and watch every movie made from between 1975 and 1989 and hand in a 7000 word essay about their importance to the art of drag by the following monday
her whole thing seems to be that she thinks she’s inventing the new wave of drag which… is a bold claim for someone wearing fringed chaps and a mug borrowed from every YouTube Drag Queen – a queen dresses like Orville Peck’s face one time and they think they reinvented the genre (and you will be seeing more of this custom made necklace because she paid 80 whole dollars for it)
I do like her makeup but I think she could raise and thin the brows a little more which would give her more space to do the bold graphic liner she’s going for.
The reason Beverly landed on the shitlist this episode was because she made a few dismissive remarks about Minnie Cooper, a 50 year old, 20 years in the game, drag veteran
she looks amazing and I adore that we go from this sort of glamorous woman that rules the Bingo hall with an iron fist to the wacky professor in a Disney Channel movie in her confessionals
it’s like the opposite effect with Gisele on Canada’s Drag Race who in drag looks like she might be a sardonic older queen and then it cuts to her confessional and she looks like the nice young man who rents deckchairs out at Blackpool
I’m always glad to see an older queen on the show, they bring a very different perspective and style to the whole thing – we’ll just have to hope the show doesn’t end up breaking her rib and/or giving her a serious case of diarrhoea. How’s the sushi, Charlie?
Molly Poppinz was next and was really leaning into the breastplate of it all
I love the outfit – shocking pink and neon green is always fun and I like the self-branding of it all, I am just a little tired of the whole “LOL, breasts” schtick, but I do like that out of drag she looks like Danny deVito dressed as one of the Stranger Things kids
the confessional looks for this season are all pretty good, but this fairy bread print shirt stole my heart.
And then terrifying all of the queens by strutting in looking like she was a freshly exterminated Dragula contestant was Yuri Guaii
I cannot get enough of this look, she just looks unreal and clearly the other queens were all rather shook, most of all Faux – I loved her slowly reaching for Hannah’s hand because she was having something of a religious experience
who could blame her?
Also, out of drag?
A complete snack.
Yuri was a tough act to follow and while Pomara might not have been quite as high concept, her look was cute enough for an entrance look
I did spend quite a bit of time trying to work out what her name was a pun of because I was convinced that it was meant to kind of sound like Paloma Faith, but even as a fan of Paloma Faith that seemed quite niche. Then she spent a considerable amount of time trying to reclaim Pavlova for New Zealand so I desperately tried to make that work in my head but then it turned out she just named herself after the house number and street she lived on – and you know, doxxing yourself via your drag name is a bold approach.
Beverly’s partner in Being Young and a Little Annoying, Aubrey Haive was next
she looks really good, especially considering she only started doing drag during lockdown, imaginably during an Austin Powers marathon. I don’t think what she said to Minnie Cooper was actually intended to be shady – Minnie described her own drag as “vintage” and Aubrey said “I think it’s retro” which they decided to play a rattlesnake noise over despite the fact I 100% think Aubrey, whose entire schtick is being 60s inspired, thought of “retro” as a compliment.
I am mildly convinced she’s also just a plant being played by Ben Whishaw
that’s Ben Whishaw the actor, not Ben Whishaw my cat that I named after going through… a phase.
And the last queen to enter and arguably the biggest name of the season was Kween Kong whose King Kong look is already a highlight of the season
imaginably because of her profile she’ll be eliminated next week and inexplicably be brought back 2 weeks later by resurrecting her out of a skip full of the trousers that Spankie Jackzon steadfastly refuses to wear.
Overall a really great cast of queens who already have much less cursed energy than the first season’s lot.
You’re The Wurst
One of my favourite things about a regular season of Drag Race is the mildly degrading photoshoots they have in the first episode and this season was no exception, although I think the whole thing was more degrading to the Pit Crew who clearly hated every second of having old, room temperature sausages being shoved in their faces all morning
there’s only so much you can take of the lingering smell of a vienna sausage before it all becomes a bit too much.
A large part of the challenge was RuPaul desperately trying to coax the queens into saying “I’m a sausage destroyer” but none of them seemed to really understand the Cock Destroyer reference and went very milquetoast with their deliveries of the line, I still think I was more upset about Spankie not saying the “I need a hotdog real bad!” line. Instead the highlight had to be Kween Kong snapping the sausage and then both Pit Crew members clearly feeling very threatened by it
the real star of the show though was the massive deli sausage that once again, that poor man hated every second of being in direct contact with
I love him and I hope he was well compensated for his sausage trauma. And yet somehow despite the baby-sized sausage, Molly Poppinz still made sure to put her best breasts forward, much to the horror of the man nearly having his face eclipsed by said baby-sized sausage
the winner however was Minnie Cooper who had Ru cackling throughout her shoot – I did love the fact they chose a shot where she was clearly kneeling and the Pit Crew were also awkwardly crouching for some reason
but you know, good for her, she got a whole lot of jewellery for her time.
For once the main challenge for the premier episode wasn’t simply a case of presenting two pre-planned looks and instead the queens were having to make a look inspired by the Great Down Under “Naturally” and Ru did put an emphasis on the word naturally which suggested to me that everyone was expected to use natural materials and yet for some reason there was an abundance of hosepipes and tinfoil
I did check to see if Australia exports aluminium but they do not. It was most likely because buying enough real plants to clothe 9.5 drag queens (remember, Spankie only dresses from the pelvis up) was going to be a little expensive so they just tossed in a few ~recyclable~ materials which they could have better explained considering they had the Irwins Skyping in while being strangled by a 200 pound Burmese Python called Jenny, the unofficial 13th queen of the season – Spankie Jackzon’s ass cheeks being queens number 11 and 12
but I would have found it a more interesting runway if everyone was having to try to build gowns out of cornhusks a la Austin Scarlett on Project Runway
Speaking of Austin Scarlett, Hannah had a similar “disaster” to him in that she spent a fair bit of time hot-gluing ferns to a corset only to come back the next day and find out that picked plants left outside of a cold room overnight whither and die
but despite essentially making a self-mulching corset she ended up with a pretty cute Tinkerbell inspired look
of course Hannah’s proficiency with a hot glue prompted the age old conversation about drag queens who can’t sew for shit, a conversation mostly led by Beverly Kills from the safety of her confessionals where she was prompted to express dismay that Minnie Cooper had not utilised her 50 years on this earth to learn how to sew tinfoil together and was instead stapling herself a look
Minnie was a weird target for the discourse because the outfit she ended up with was, while a basic dress, at least more than shit hot-glued to a corset (which at this point I can’t really be mad at, drag queens are going to be drag queens, they practically bleed hot glue)
but I forgive you for perhaps not even noticing Minnie’s dress because for some reason she was just carrying around a Dell desktop around like it was a clutch bag
Judith Leiber could NEVER – but you know, it worked with her kind of corporate femmebot look she was going for
it’s sort of Rosie The Robot meets Dot Matrix, I thought she looked great and the whole thing told me more of a story than most of the other looks.
I imagine Beverly was asked to pass so much judgement on Minnie during her confessionals because she was also using a roll of tinfoil to add details to her plastic babydoll dress, a decision I’m shocked didn’t summon the spirit of Daya Betty to lay claim to the concept of a babydoll dress again
and yes, just to make sure nobody forgot her name, she had put her custom made £80 dollar necklace into a jiffy bag like it was a packed lunch
she does look really good though and I can’t deny that she’s very entertaining on the runway, so I can’t complete discount her but it was quite funny when she was called safe and she clearly had Thoughts and Opinions™ about the decision
she wasn’t the only one because I Aubrey also thought she had done better in this challenge than she actually had
it just doesn’t look particularly fashionable, it’s kind of Marilyn Monroe in a musical about a cavewoman, which should be fabulous but this just wasn’t “sexy enough” – it could have been cut a little higher on the legs and just get rid of the clompy shoe covers, but I liked that she used a fabric that at least looked more “natural” than the plastic or tinfoil.
Spankie was probably the biggest struggle bus of the episode and never really managed to fully overcome that struggle and ended up walking the runway looking like a Teletubby’s intestinal tract
had she just quickly repurposed the wings into some sort of a skirt, she probably could have avoided the bottom 2 purely because Michelle wouldn’t have been able to see her black underwear.
Kween Kong also had a bit of a struggle and had to start all over again after her initial look wasn’t working out, whether this was because of the design or that she was trying to sew with acrylic nails is yet to be determined
but her final look ended up being a nod her Polynesian heritage and, by her admittance, fell just short of a Disney lawsuit
I really liked this and thought it was a perfectly serviceable look, the judges did get VERY hung up on the fact they could see some of her undergarments through the foliage and I loved that they spent a significant amount of time prior to pointing this out adamantly stating that “we love it when a queen brings [ambiguous culture]” to the main stage as an avoidance of reigniting the Jojo Zaho discourse all over again. I thought her outfit was a better meeting of the criteria than a fair few others and I’m a little annoyed she was in the bottom 3, as I was with Faux Fur who looked REALLY cute
and sure, the back of the dress was a little sparse and she could have done with better layering of the grass and fabric
but I really do think she had a more interesting outfit and better meeting of the prompt than Pomara Fifth who just looked mouldy
there’s gluing shit to a corset and ending up with something like Hannah Conda’s fairy outfit and then there’s gluing shit to a corset and looking like you were found under the couch. At least she made a hat, I guess?
Molly Poppinz definitely did the best job at making actual the materials look like actual clothes though
the featheriness of the skirt was really pretty and moved very well, I probably could have done without the random flash of the mossy knickers but it gave me this awful screenshot of Michelle so I can’t complain
and lastly, in probably the most egregious use of non-natural materials was Yuri Guaii very much dressed as a Dexter victim but fashion, and I loved the moment she realised she couldn’t walk in the dress anymore and she just looked at the judges with her finger up like she was telling them to STOP, IMMEDIATELY
the fact it looks like an outfit she brought in prior to the competition is very impressive and she’s clearly a very talented seamstress but the makeup was a little confusing
I didn’t quite understand the streaking eyeliner but it was a great outfit – still confused as to what it says about “The Great Down Under (Naturally)” but when has consistency ever been this show’s strength?
The judging was a little odd for me, I get that Faux and Kween both had “unfinished” looking garments but I thought their concepts were a lot more interesting than most people, I would have at least spared Kween Kong the bottom and put Pomara down there instead and made her lipsync against Spankie – I thought both of their outfits were much bigger sartorial misfires than Faux’s. I was mostly fine with the top 3 – Yuri’s was a very impressively made, I would have given the win to Molly but Hannah’s was cute and the judges were very taken with her presentation of it, which does count for something so Hannah Conda was the first challenge winner [womp womp, I made bad notes again – I promise I watch these…] while our first bottom 2 were Spankie and Faux.
The best thing about Drag Race Down Under is that we’re always guaranteed a Kylie lipsync, with the first lipsync of this season being to Kylie’s “Get Outta My Way” which I thought the two of them would play a lot more comedically but they both went with pretty standard walking from one side of the stage to the other while doing big arms, hair flips, the occasional twirl and a split during the crescendo
which made it a perfectly serviceable lipsync.
I think Faux had more of the Kylie vibe – the fact she wasn’t dressed like the anatomical study of Tinky Winky did help tremendously but Spankie clearly had more stage presence and I really didn’t believe for a second that they’d get rid of her this early on and Faux was pretty much doomed the moment Michelle Visage uttered the words “Bridget Jones’s underwear” to her
I really liked Faux and would have liked to see her stick around for a little longer, she seemed really sweet and like a good television personality but sadly it was not meant to be for her.
And so, the season gets underway!
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